2010 Land Rover LR4 Review

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Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
December 13, 2009

The 2010 Land Rover LR4 takes on tough terrain with ease, and it's become more adept at imparting a carlike driving feel.

TheCarConnection.com's editors tested the 2010 Land Rover LR4 and have written this road-test summary from firsthand driving impressions. Editors compared the LR4 with other off-road SUVs and assembled a companion full review that digests opinions from other car reviews into a comprehensive, easy-to-read review.

The 2010 Land Rover LR4 returns for the new model year with its new name; last year, you knew it as the LR3. With the new initials comes a revised powertrain lineup of big V-8 engines, some cosmetic tweaks to its skin, and a revamped interior with a warm, upscale feel. The 2010 LR4 carries a base price of about $48,000 and competes most closely with the BMW X5, the Mercedes-Benz M-Class, the Audi Q7, the Volkswagen Touareg, and the Lexus GX 470.

It's been slightly tweaked for the new model year, but the LR4's styling mostly stays true to the former LR3. The upright, safari-chic look shares plenty with the smaller LR2 and the big Range Rover-though it's certainly the most vertically inclined. The cosmetic updates include painted bumpers, a new honeycomb grille, new headlamps, and tail lights. The LR4's interior earns the new-model name; it's completely fresh and swaps out the plasticky bits of the LR3 for a suave leather-trimmed dash with rich wood trim, softer-touch materials, and far more logical placement of controls. High-end trims get perks like walnut trim and premium leather with new stitching.

The LR4 sheds all its old Ford and BMW heritage (both companies owned the brand in the past) by adopting a new 5.0-liter V-8 engine. With 375 horsepower-75 hp more than last year's model-the LR4 feels almost fleet and nimble, with plenty of power to move it to 60 mph in under 7.5 seconds. A six-speed automatic transmission teams with four-wheel drive in a body that weighs nearly 6,000 pounds-which explains the LR4's dismal 12/17 mpg fuel economy. Rover fans know real-world driving will run toward the lower end of that scale.

Review continues below

The LR4 isn't as responsive on the road as carlike crossovers; the driving position is very tall, and it feels at first as if the LR4 is going to be tipsy in corners, but it maintains impressive composure in on-road cornering and on rough road surfaces better than most truck-based SUVs. That's thanks to an independent double-wishbone suspension with height-adjustable rear air springs and the LR4's range of electronic aids-and a series of revisions to its suspension and steering. A four-corner, independent, height-adjustable air suspension and Land Rover's exclusive Terrain Response system (with separate modes commanding the behavior of an armory of electronics for several different driving conditions, such as "mud and ruts" or "sand and dunes") help bring impressive off-road ability to the 2010 Land Rover LR4 without sacrificing on-road handling. A central-locking differential engages when conditions warrant maximum grip.

Comfort and quality have to be dealt with in different ways with the 2010 Land Rover LR4. For comfortable seating, the second-row passengers have it best. The LR4 requires a little taller step-in than crossover drivers will like, but the middle row has a good view of the world, and the bench seat is firm enough for long-distance comfort. In front, passengers get nicely shaped leather bucket seats with Land Rover's infinitely adjustable armrests-but they don't get much room for their knees, between the door panels and the wide center console. The optional third-row seat is strictly for children, but the "pedestal" third row has an elevated roof for more headroom and can fit adults in an emergency. It's very difficult to access, but it tucks away nicely when not in use. Five-passenger versions have a large cargo hold instead, and all LR4s have decent console and cubby storage, as well as a shallow top glove box teamed with a larger, lower compartment. The LR3 had a reputation for unreliable operation, and the LR4 swaps in new electronic controls for the entire vehicle and a new engine-so buyers should understand both before signing on.

The LR4 has not been crash-tested by either NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) or the IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety). Front side airbags are standard on the 2010 Land Rover LR4, however, along with side curtain bags covering first- and second-row occupants. Anti-lock brakes are also standard and include an all-terrain mode.

The list of standard features on the 2010 Land Rover LR4 includes rear parking distance control, dual-zone climate control, and a nine-speaker Harman Kardon sound system. An upper-line HSE adds goodies like bi-xenon headlamps, power heated mirrors, a navigation system with off-road features, front park-distance control, Bluetooth connectivity, and magnificent 550-watt premium surround sound. Options include Sirius Satellite Radio, adaptive front lighting, and a cooler box. The front passenger seat has eight-way power adjustments, and the power-adjustable steering column has a memory function. New features include an LCD touchscreen to control audio and climate functions, as well as iPod connectivity.

8

2010 Land Rover LR4

Styling

The 2010 Land Rover LR4 shows a softer inside to go with its rugged good looks.

It's been slightly tweaked for the new model year, but the LR4's styling mostly stays true to the former LR3. The upright, safari-chic look shares plenty with the smaller LR2 and the big Range Rover-though it's certainly the most vertically inclined. Edmunds says the Land Rover LR4 "offers an unparalleled rugged image." The "upright, angular" look, with "short overhangs and a large greenhouse are familiar touches," Cars.com remarks, as it compares the LR4's "face and a split tailgate" to those of the "company's flagship Range Rover." Kelley Blue Book notes that "viewed from the front, you'd be forgiven for mistaking [it] for its big brother, the Range Rover." The cosmetic updates for 2010 include "new tail lights, a two-bar mesh grille (with matching fender vents - ooh!) and new front bumper and fenders," Jalopnik observes. The "black plastic exterior cladding goes body color and the front and rear lighting includes jewellike LEDs," Motor Trend adds, while Automobile reports, "The overall affects of the freshening are very slight and aren't immediately obvious unless the LR4 is parked right next to an LR3."

The LR4's interior earns the new-model name; it's completely fresh and swaps out the plasticky bits of the LR3 for a suave leather-trimmed dash with rich wood trim, softer-touch materials, and far more logical placement of controls. High-end trims get perks like walnut trim and premium leather with new stitching. Reviewers that had no qualms complimenting the LR3's interior are shifting opinions after seeing the new LR4. Jalopnik recalls the old LR3's "straight-from-the-parts-bin interior" that "seemed to borrow more from the Ford parts bin than a luxury vehicle ought to," and credits the new design with a look that "approaches luxury rather than sidestepping it to save money." It's "a richer and more premium environment that is nearly on par with the top-of-the-line Range Rover," Car and Driver reports, and Motor Trend points out the details that give it the richer look, like "all ambient lighting, soft-touch surfaces, and available premium leather with stitching of Range-Rover quality." With the big changes inside, Edmunds asserts, the LR4 "looks like an entirely new vehicle, from the inside at least."

7

2010 Land Rover LR4

Performance

The 2010 Land Rover LR4 has better road feel and far better acceleration than the LR3-and amazing off-road prowess.

The LR4 sheds all its old Ford and BMW heritage (both companies owned the brand in the past) by adopting a new 5.0-liter V-8 engine.

With 375 horsepower-75 hp more than last year's model-the LR4 feels almost fleet and nimble, with plenty of power to move it to 60 mph in under 7.5 seconds. It's a "brand-new engine," Jalopnik says, one that can "propel the 5,800 lb-plus SUV from 0-to-60 in a manufacturer-claimed 7.5 seconds." The engine "helps the once-only-capable-off-road SUV feel like it's got the power necessary to get back home from a to-late-for prep school night date faster than your over-Xanaxed parents can ground you," they add. Edmunds agrees the "performance gains are huge," and reports their "test LR4 accelerated like a much lighter vehicle." Motor Trend calls it a "carriage-to-chariot level improvement in acceleration feel, with way more midrange punch and a more pleasing engine note," while Car and Driver observes, "this isn't acceleration that will lead anyone to confuse the LR4 with a sports car, but we'd say that the power has made the transition from insufficient to sufficient." Automobile reports the LR4 is "nearly as fast as the outgoing Range Rover Sport Supercharged."

A six-speed automatic transmission teams with four-wheel drive in a body that weighs nearly 6,000 pounds-which explains the LR4's dismal 12/17 mpg fuel economy. Rover fans know real-world driving will run toward the lower end of that scale. The six-speed is a "new, upgraded 6-speed ZF auto tranny with a select-a-gear manumatic system called ‘Commandshift,'" Jalopnik explains. As Edmunds sees it, the six-speed doesn't improve fuel economy, though performance is better: "12 mpg city and 17 mpg highway on premium fuel aren't going to write any headlines." MotherProof simply calls the Land Rover LR4 "a gas guzzler."

The LR4 isn't as responsive on the road as carlike crossovers; the driving position is very tall, and it feels at first as if the LR4 is going to be tipsy in corners, but it maintains impressive composure in on-road cornering and on rough road surfaces better than most truck-based SUVs. That's thanks to an independent double-wishbone suspension with height-adjustable rear air springs and the LR4's range of electronic aids-and a series of revisions to its suspension and steering. "Of course, adding this much power without a commensurate chassis upgrade would have been like hitching Seabiscuit and Citation to that 19th century carriage," Motor Trend says. Edmunds explains the new steering has a different feel at lower and higher speeds, for "steady and predictable behavior when driving straight down the road" and "improved steering response" during cornering. Where the LR3 was "clumsy and slow-witted," according to Car and Driver, the LR4 has "better body control, reduced body roll, and improved compliance and ride quality." The "LR4 imparts considerable driver confidence," declares Popular Mechanics. However, Automobile thinks "although the LR4 corners flatter than an LR3, there is still a considerable amount of body roll present in a turn." The upgrades may "make the overall on-road driving experience shockingly significantly better," as Jalopnik reports, but as Automobile points out, they "are almost moot when it comes to the nearly-6000 pound SUV's road manners."

"The real joy of owning a Land Rover is the ability to head off in practically any direction a horseback rider could," Motor Trend proclaims. That's why Land Rover fits a four-corner, independent, height-adjustable air suspension and a Terrain Response system (with separate modes for several different driving conditions, such as "mud and ruts" or "sand and dunes") to bring impressive off-road ability to the 2010 Land Rover LR4. A central-locking differential engages when conditions warrant maximum grip. "Whether slipping through two-foot-deep muddy ruts in the hills of Vermont, or scrambling over foots and tree stumps that managed to fell even a mighty Land Rover Defender, the LR4 took on anything in front of it," Jalopnik remarks. Motor Trend explains the LR4's off-road talents come from gradual throttle and good brakes, which "permit rolling a tire off a boulder and tiptoeing it down onto the ground, all of which makes ‘treading lightly' easier in a Rover than in most factory original rock-hoppers." As Car and Driver puts it, "the LR4 basically takes care of lifting the vehicle and tailors the throttle response and shift patterns to suit the conditions." Automobile says "purists may cringe at the thought" of electronic goodies replacing old-fashioned mechanicals and driver skill, but the LR4's systems "allow virtually anyone to go from driving 125 mph on the paved roads to inching along a difficult trail without doing much more than turning a dial."

To keep the LR4 at an even pace, Land Rover improves the brakes for 2010 as well. Its 19-inch wheels cloak "larger 14.2-inch brake rotors with twin-piston sliding calipers," according to Edmunds. "The last LR3 we tested recorded relatively short stops, but no one is going to argue with bigger brakes when 75 more horsepower is on tap," they note. Car and Driver feels the brakes give "the LR4 a more agile feel," though Automobile states mildly, "we found the revised brakes to be adequate for the LR4's 5833 lb curb weight."

8

2010 Land Rover LR4

Comfort & Quality

The 2010 Land Rover LR4 seats five comfortably; the third-row option has decent room but is tough to access. Reliability is a concern.

Comfort and quality have to be dealt with in different ways with the 2010 Land Rover LR4.

For comfortable seating, the second-row passengers have it best. The LR4 requires a little taller step-in than crossover drivers will like, but the middle row has a good view of the world, and the bench seat is firm enough for long-distance comfort. ConsumerGuide calls it "unusually comfortable, with ample headroom and legroom."

In front, passengers get nicely shaped leather bucket seats with Land Rover's infinitely adjustable armrests-but they won't enjoy much room for their knees between the door panels and the wide center console. Car and Driver praises "the elevated seating position that places the driver high above traffic in the rarefied air of the Rover-sphere." According to Cars.com, "Eight-way power-adjustable driver and front passenger seats...are standard." The reviewer also notes that the "seats are comfortable and supportive despite firm cushioning." Jalopnik says the new optional seat has side bolstering, "a must-have for off-roading in order to avoid smacking your left side into the door on sudden, steep sideways descents," and compliments the "infinite-adjusting arm rests" for their user-friendly action.

"There are new seats for the first and second row passengers," Automobile reports, "but not for those forced to ride in the optional third row." The carry-over optional third-row seat is strictly for children, but the "pedestal" seating position and the LR4's elevated roof means a little more headroom and adult-sized room in an emergency. It's very difficult to access, but it tucks away nicely when not in use. Kelley Blue Book comments, "although the third row offers decent room, the seating mechanisms aren't as slick and easy to operate as we've experienced in the competition."

Instead of a third-row seat, five-passenger versions of the LR4 have a large cargo hold instead, and all LR4s have decent console and cubby storage, as well as a shallow top glove box teamed with a larger, lower compartment. Edmunds notes, "in terms of everyday usability, the LR4 shines, with fold-flat second- and third-row seats, and a vast cargo space with a maximum of 90 available cubic feet." MotherProof declares that cargo space is "to-die-for," remarking that they "shoved so much into the back of this car, and it swallowed everything and even seemed to want more." They also point out "two glove compartments and mucho cupholders."

The LR3 had a reputation for unreliable operation, and the LR4 swaps in new electronic controls for the entire vehicle and a new engine-so buyers should understand both before signing on. However, interior quality and fit and finish are good. ConsumerGuide notes that "interior materials are of high quality," and Edmunds admires the "comfortable and well-appointed interior," but they remind drivers "testing experiences have shown that build quality isn't universally solid"-as does Motor Trend, which concludes "our most serious misgivings are on the reliability front."

8

2010 Land Rover LR4

Safety

The 2010 Land Rover LR4 has interesting technology for safe off-roading and trailering, but no crash tests have been performed to confirm its impact protection.

The LR4 has not been crash-tested by either NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) or the IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety).

Front side airbags are standard on the 2010 Land Rover LR4, however, along with side curtain bags covering first- and second-row occupants. Anti-lock brakes are also standard and include an all-terrain mode. Edmunds states the "stability control" system comes with "rollover mitigation technology [and] hill-descent control." Cars.com reports, "Antilock brakes and an electronic parking brake are installed" on the Land Rover LR4. In addition to front airbags, "side-impact airbags and side curtain airbags for the first and second rows are standard, and separate side curtains are included to protect third-row occupants."

Among other available features are "adaptive headlights, which 'look' around corners and adjust up and down to counter the effects of hard braking," Edmunds says. But "most interesting is an available five-camera view system that can show you clearances all around the vehicle," they add. "Even the perfect path to your trailer's hitch ball can be mapped with guide lines that overlay the image." Motor Trend's reviewers "surely enjoy being able to use cameras to monitor the precise placement of the front tires, to see how close the bodywork is to encroaching rocks and obstacles."

Visibility is a strength of the LR4. Edmunds notes its "commanding driving position and elevated 'stadium' seating give the driver a clear view of the road (or trail) ahead."

9

2010 Land Rover LR4

Features

The 2010 Land Rover LR4 has bested its predecessor with intuitive entertainment features and more high-tech options.

The list of standard features on the 2010 Land Rover LR4 includes rear parking distance control, dual-zone climate control, and a nine-speaker Harman Kardon sound system. "There's a new steering wheel with better controls for everything from infotainment functions to the cruise control," Automobile notes. Edmunds adds the standard features include "keyless push-button start" and "an electronic parking brake."

"Pricing starts at $48,100 and the LR4 can be optioned up past $63,000," Automobile explains. "The $3650 HSE package seems like a worthy upgrade as it includes heated front and rear seats, steering wheel, washer jets, as well as navigation, Bluetooth integration for cell phones, and 19-inch wheels." The HSE adds a magnificent 550-watt premium surround sound. "If you step up to the 2010 LR4 HSE, the price will be $51,750," Edmunds says, "while the 2010 LR4 HSE Lux will be $56,515."

Options include 20-inch wheels, Sirius Satellite Radio, adaptive front lighting, and a cooler box. New features include an LCD touchscreen to control audio and climate functions and iPod connectivity-it's one "of the most sophisticated thin-film displays (for onboard systems) we've seen," Popular Mechanics declares. The LR3's fussy infotainment system "has been simplified and the touch-screen is much more intuitive to operate than the old collection of buttons and dials," Automobile reports. "The new iPod interface is well-integrated and there is also an option to play music files from a USB memory stick."

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